Monthly Archives: July 2013

Yells, Bells and Qvells

Finally, the royal wait is over, and a future king has been born. As I write, my screens are filled with live coverage of the easel birth announcement, and the colorful announcer on the hospital steps sporting a plumed headdress and large brass bell, calling out pertinent information to the cheering crowd.

I scanned the easel for the bit of information I’d been waiting for: both mother and son are doing well. Mothers of mothers need to know that first.

Soon, I’m sure, Prince Charles and the Queen and the Middletons will begin the royal qvell,* to which they are mightily entitled, not because a future king has been born, but because they are grandparents and great-grandparents. Kate and baby are fine and this child will be exceptional (do all grandparents feel this way?). Royal or not, “Baby Cambridge” is someone to love and cherish and fuss over and sing to and grandparent. Life is good.

And the Duchess and Prince? They had the birth they had planned for, we are told. They are not only Duchess and future king. They are lucky ducks. And as I wait for my own grandchild to appear, I am eager to quack myself.

*qvell is an old Yiddish word meaning to burst with pride

Wait For It . . .

As of this post, no text or call has alerted me that my grandchild is ready to meet the world. So I must do what is hardest for me to do: wait.

My daughter, on the other hand, is gracefully dealing with the last days of pregnancy in ways that delight me. We joined the expectant couple for a long walk to a late dinner last Saturday night, in the middle of a New York City heat wave. And yesterday, at her suggestion, we went to the beach, where 96 degree sand led to a cool ocean. Watching my very pregnant daughter swim and laugh and emerge refreshed reminded me how it is possible to bring style and joy to the last weeks of the ninth month. I watched her, under an umbrella, enjoying a summer plum, and allowed myself to relax a little, too.

How do grandparents-to-be pass the time? I’m hoping that the phone will ring before I run out of ways. Until then, suggestions are welcome.

Baby Prep

In a week, perhaps two, a new baby will grace our lives and change our world forever. And although we’ve had months to prepare, I’m still left with a list that is not entirely checked off. So I wonder, is it possible for a grandparent to ever be ready?

We began with our immediate surroundings. We deemed a glass coffee table, one that our daughters had grown up with, dangerous for small children, and got rid of it. We went from room to room, de-cluttering the girls’ childhood home and reclaiming space necessary for the baby’s visits. A chess set and table was removed, after thirty years in the den, to the attic. Things were re-arranged, removed, or banished.

Next came the ordering of necessary grandparent items. A pack-n-play, still boxed, sits expectantly in the den, where the chess set used to be. Leaning up against it, also still boxed, is a collapsible cradle, and a borrowed infant bathtub. A stroller, now part of what is called a “travel system,” sits alone in the living room near where the glass table used to be. Check!

Lower down on my list are the items to have on hand, swaddling blankets, washcloths, towels, bibs, and toiletries, to make a trip across the bridge easier and more tempting for the new parents. We’d like to be able to say, “Just bring the baby and yourselves” – but none of these items have been rounded up yet. Tomorrow?

As time draws near, and the baby readies itself to meet us, we are still scurrying. Will we, the new grandparents, ever be ready? Luckily, this wonderful baby will decide for us.

Waiting With Music

First grandchildren can take a while to arrive, and the trick is to pass the time without counting each minute. My daughter unknowingly helped me with this by reminding me of the songs she remembered me singing to her when she was tiny. That set me off.

All week I’ve been singing or whistling tunes I haven’t sung for years. I don’t know how many infants these days are treated to “Come Josephine With Your Flying Machine” but my grandmother sang the first three lines of this song to me, over and over, and I know I will pass it on to this sweet new child who lives in a world of rather sophisticated flying machines, to say the least. Although I don’t know who first sang this song to my grandmother, the mystery and music will be shared with my grandchild. She’ll ask, I know she will. Curiosity gallops through her veins.

I may not do them justice but I will try my best to sing the sweeter songs of Billy Joel, as I did with my daughters. And Joe Raposo’s songs are high on the list, as are the Beatles. I can sit on the porch and remember such sweet music surrounding the baby in my arms and me, and I marvel at the chance to be surrounded again.

What Mothers Know

To hear my mother and grandmother tell it, at the age of two I began lifting my pointer finger in the air and pontificating on whatever it is I knew at the age of two. I apparently did so with urgency and determination, so convinced I must have been of the importance of my twenty-four month wisdom and the need to share it.

Sixty years later I am often overtaken by the same compelling need to share accumulated wisdom, and nothing compels me more than having a pregnant daughter. From food choices to delivery room advice to nursery décor, there are things I know.

But I hold my tongue.

For the past nine months, my daughter has taught me. Midwifery, doulas, inoculations, wardrobe, rocking chairs, hospital policies, pacifiers, diapers, baby food . . . the list is long, and I listen and learn.

I know to make way and respect the discoveries of a soon-to-be mother. Holding my tongue forces me to listen and even re-position my ideas on pregnancy and infancy.

My daughter joins the ranks of knowing mothers because her child has already captured her mind and put it to work. Soon it will capture her heart. I know.


July will bring a new person into my life, a brand new earthling, a thoughtful, wondering, open-eyed individual who will wrap my brain, body, and soul around a new life, for the rest of mine.

This person is scheduled to meet me, and everyone else, sometime in July, and the waiting is hard. And yet, selfishly, I don’t feel quite ready. Am I wise enough? Grandparents should be wise. Am I calm enough? I don’t want to impart fear or worry; infants sense those feelings immediately. Am I able to love this baby as completely and devotedly as I love my daughter? The universal answer seems to be “yes,” but I hope I’m of that universe.

Someone asked me today if I thought the baby’s first words would be “grandma.” My answer was, “the first word will most likely be an exotic vegetable, perhaps fennel.” First words are not often “grandma.” That’s as it should be. And this particular baby will be surrounded by mangoes and shallots and kiwi (now there’s a great first word) and lots of fennel. I will not try to compete.

The word “grandmother” holds so much dignity and wisdom and generational significance. It’s laden with expectations and promises. At first, this word will have no meaning for my grandchild. When she begins to connect faces to words, she’ll find a suitable name for me. Whatever she decides, when she calls it, I’ll be there. I hope she finds me worthy.